A decline in mammograms and other screening procedures after the coronavirus pandemic struck is leading to missed and delayed cancer diagnoses, according to data from insurance claims, lab orders, Medicare billings and oncology-practice records, an emerging pattern that is alarming oncologists.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, has meant that many women put off their regular mammogram, the best diagnostic tool in the fight against breast cancer. As most healthcare facilities closed for all but emergency care at the height of the pandemic, many people faced canceled appointments and some have been reluctant to reschedule even once centers reopened.
Skipping a regular mammogram, even if you’re considered at low risk for breast cancer, is not advisable as the test can detect the disease one to four years before you might feel a lump in your breast, according to Dr. Niamey Wilson, director of breast surgery, research and quality for the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute and breast surgery division lead for the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group. Early detection, she added, gives you about a 20 percent better chance that the breast cancer can be successfully treated.
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